National / International News

The value of an Obama commencement speech

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:13

President Obama will be giving the commencement speech at UC Irvine this June. You’d hope the President would have valuable advice for new graduates. But Jeffrey Papa, President of SimpsonScarborough, a higher education marketing firm, wants everyone to remember that “higher Education is a business.”

 So, what would be the value, and cost, of a Presidential speech at your school?

VALUE: $1,000,000 worth of marketing

Jeffrey Papa of SimpsonScarborough says schools can spend up to a million dollars on a marketing campaign for just one project.

VALUE: Lots of media coverage

There were over 400 stories about UC Irvine’s commencement this Thursday, with many more coming before now and the actual event in June.

VALUE: Street cred, prestige

Dan Hurley with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities says it's unlikely the school could find another speaker who'd be as much of a media magnet as President Obama. But academic institutions need to strike a delicate balance between looking like a prestigious institution, and still getting the word out.

COST: $1,200,000 on stadium

UC Irvine had to get a stadium large enough to accommodate its special graduation.

COST: Thousands on security

Though the school isn't sure what the exact tab is, security for POTUS is figured in to its $1.2 million stadium deal. Dan Hurley says while the White House isn't charging the school, there's a lot of advance work with security detail that has an institution’s staff running hard in the days leading up to a visit.

The President needs a good speech. Help him out: What’s the best commencement speech advice you’ve ever heard?

Take out a loan - from your employer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:06

When it comes to who can borrow money -- and how -- let's just say lessons have been learned.

One of the things that's come from that thinking is the workplace loan, where employees can take out loans or cash advances through an employer.

Let's say someone has a car that breaks down. Gotta get it fixed, right? But what if this person doesn't have the money?

"Unfortunately, many of our consumers don't have access to traditional bank credit," says Ken Rees, CEO of Think Finance, a workplace lender out of Fort Worth. A lot of his "consumers" are restaurants workers, hotel staff, even teachers and nurses. And he says a lot of times, they can't get emergency credit.

"It's the choice between this product and a payday loan or this product and no access to credit at all," he says.

That product he's talking about is called Elastic. It lets employees borrow money through their employer. At Think Finance, a worker can get a line of credit, up to $1,000.  There's a 5 percent fee for cash advances. Plus, other fees for higher loans--the bigger the loan, the higher the fees.

"They can get onto the website. We're able to ping that payroll system, know that they've been paid a certain amount, know that they are who they say who they say they are, and then we're able to feel confident giving that customer the credit that they need," Rees says.  

How much credit depends on things like how long a person has been with a company, and credit history. Employees can repay the loans by check or in cash, but usually these loans are repaid directly from a paycheck.

Companies like FairLoan, a San Francisco-based lending startup, offer incentives for repaying a loan straight out of a paycheck.

"When you're applying for the loan, it's made very clear that if you want to pay from your paycheck, you have access to more credit," says Alix Karlan, FairLoan's founder and CEO. "We limit loans that are not repaid through the paycheck to $500."

Karlan says repaying the loans out of paycheck is safer for both the lender and the borrower. He says they're meant to be affordable, with interest rates starting at 18 percent.

"And the most expensive loan that we offer comes with a 30 percent interest rate and a 5 percent origination fee," he says.

Karlan and other workplace lenders say that's way better than a payday loan, which can carry at least 300 percent annual interest. Plus, Karlan says, his company reports info to the major credit bureaus, so it helps borrowers build credit.

But critics say these kinds of loans can be just another kind of payday loan.

"So if somebody needs to pay groceries, or pay their utility bills, and they're trying to stretch out payments or make money go a little further, they can't rearrange that debt because that's the first in line," says Gary Kalman, director of federal policy for the Center for Responsible Lending.

Even worse, Kalman says, they'll take out other loans to pay off the first one. A lot of companies have an answer for that, too. They offer financial coaching and sometimes rewards -- like discounts on interest rates and even free iPads -- for good financial behavior.

Take out a loan - from your employer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:06

When it comes to who can borrow money -- and how -- let's just say lessons have been learned.

One of the things that's come from that thinking is the workplace loan, where employees can take out loans or cash advances through an employer.

Let's say someone has a car that breaks down. Gotta get it fixed, right? But what if this person doesn't have the money?

"Unfortunately, many of our consumers don't have access to traditional bank credit," says Ken Rees, CEO of Think Finance, a workplace lender out of Fort Worth. A lot of his "consumers" are restaurants workers, hotel staff, even teachers and nurses. And he says a lot of times, they can't get emergency credit.

"It's the choice between this product and a payday loan or this product and no access to credit at all," he says.

That product he's talking about is called Elastic. It lets employees borrow money through their employer. At Think Finance, a worker can get a line of credit, up to $1,000.  There's a 5 percent fee for cash advances. Plus, other fees for higher loans--the bigger the loan, the higher the fees.

"They can get onto the website. We're able to ping that payroll system, know that they've been paid a certain amount, know that they are who they say who they say they are, and then we're able to feel confident giving that customer the credit that they need," Rees says.  

How much credit depends on things like how long a person has been with a company, and credit history. Employees can repay the loans by check or in cash, but usually these loans are repaid directly from a paycheck.

Companies like FairLoan, a San Francisco-based lending startup, offer incentives for repaying a loan straight out of a paycheck.

"When you're applying for the loan, it's made very clear that if you want to pay from your paycheck, you have access to more credit," says Alix Karlan, FairLoan's founder and CEO. "We limit loans that are not repaid through the paycheck to $500."

Karlan says repaying the loans out of paycheck is safer for both the lender and the borrower. He says they're meant to be affordable, with interest rates starting at 18 percent.

"And the most expensive loan that we offer comes with a 30 percent interest rate and a 5 percent origination fee," he says.

Karlan and other workplace lenders say that's way better than a payday loan, which can carry at least 300 percent annual interest. Plus, Karlan says, his company reports info to the major credit bureaus, so it helps borrowers build credit.

But critics say these kinds of loans can be just another kind of payday loan.

"So if somebody needs to pay groceries, or pay their utility bills, and they're trying to stretch out payments or make money go a little further, they can't rearrange that debt because that's the first in line," says Gary Kalman, director of federal policy for the Center for Responsible Lending.

Even worse, Kalman says, they'll take out other loans to pay off the first one. A lot of companies have an answer for that, too. They offer financial coaching and sometimes rewards -- like discounts on interest rates and even free iPads -- for good financial behavior.

Prosecutor David O'Neil To Head Justice's Criminal Division

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:06

O'Neil had most recently focused on oversight of criminal cases and white collar fraud investigations as well as the fallout from cascading leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

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Ex-IRA man faces Disappeared charge

BBC - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:03
A former IRA leader is charged in connection with the abduction and murder of Belfast woman Jean McConville in 1972.

Missing Jet Dredges Raw Memories, Sympathy Of Air France Families

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:00

Dr. Bernd Gans, the president of the Air France 447 Families Association, discusses an open letter that the group wrote in support of the families of passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

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Without Orders, Ukrainian Troops Are Anchorless In Crimea

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:00

As Russia has consolidated its control over Crimea, the Ukrainian government in Kiev has sent mixed messages. Many troops on the ground are feeling increasingly abandoned, with no clear orders at all.

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The Zen Master Takes New York City

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:00

The New York Knicks were once a marquee NBA franchise; now, they're a dysfunctional mess. How do you save the Knicks? Bring in Phil Jackson, of course. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis discusses the hire.

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As Carmakers Turn Up The Recalls, Consumers Tune Out

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:00

The number of vehicles recalled has more than doubled over the past 20 years — but most notices go unnoticed by the public. "It just starts to become noise," says one auto expert.

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So You Want To Evade Your Country's Twitter Ban? A Workaround

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 11:57

Governments can block sites that they deem dangerous, and for Turkey, that now includes Twitter. How does it work? And how are Turkish residents using it anyway?

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With Clock Ticking Down, Obama Polishes Judicial Legacy

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 11:55

The profile of the judiciary has already changed significantly under the president, especially when it comes to the number of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans he's appointed.

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Black Preschoolers Far More Likely To Be Suspended

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 11:39

A new study shows that black students are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school — and that gap begins before grade school.

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VIDEO: Singer defends skin whitening cream

BBC - Fri, 2014-03-21 11:29
Cameroonian pop singer Dencia has defended her promotion of a skin whitening cream called Whitenicious, which critics have branded an ''abomination'' and ''irresponsible''.

Former White House Official: Putin Wants 'New Russian Empire'

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 11:28

Former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley tell NPR that the U.S. and EU must stick together on sanctions.

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VIDEO: Film Review - the week's new films

BBC - Fri, 2014-03-21 11:25
Film critic Jason Solomons reviews the week's new film releases, including Labor Day, Yves Saint Laurent and Starred Up.

FBI agent cleared in Chechen's death

BBC - Fri, 2014-03-21 10:56
A prosecutor has cleared an FBI agent in the May shooting death of a Chechen man linked to one of the accused Boston Marathon bombers, media report.

Tories and SNP 'in race to bottom'

BBC - Fri, 2014-03-21 10:55
Scottish independence and a Tory win at the next UK election would force the country into a "race to the bottom", Labour leader Ed Miliband says.

Can Europe Wean Itself Off Russian Gas?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 10:50

Europe has been trying to reduce its energy dependence on Russia for years. The crisis in Crimea has given the effort a greater sense of urgency.

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Europe should control army says MSP

BBC - Fri, 2014-03-21 10:46
Sovereignty over defence should be removed from nation states and handed to a European defence force, a Labour MSP says.

Van Persie out for up to six weeks

BBC - Fri, 2014-03-21 10:34
Manchester United striker Robin van Persie is ruled out for between four and six weeks with a knee injury.

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